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8/11 Practice Highlights: John Simon's Interception Gets Big Cheers

The three-day stretch of combined practices with the San Francisco 49ers concluded on a lighter note during Monday's session.

The two teams practiced in shorts and shells after two days of full pads, and there wasn't nearly as much contact.

"We had a really good practice today – really fast. It wasn't quite as physical as the first two," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I thought our guys really looked good. We played fast offensively. We executed well."

A star of Monday's practice was reserve outside linebacker John Simon, who pulled off one of the more impressive interceptions of training camp. Simon dropped back in coverage against tight end Asante Cleveland, and 49ers quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson tried to float a pass over Simon's head. Simon put up his arm to deflect the pass off Cleveland's chest, and he then snagged the football for an interception off the deflection.

After the turnover, Simon quickly switched direction and took off the other way which drew big cheers from the Ravens' sideline.

Simon's interception was one of two forced by the Ravens outside linebackers Monday. Elvis Dumervil picked off starting quarterback Josh Johnson during 11-on-11 drills, and then took off for the end zone with his eyes on a pick-six. Dumervil's interception attracted similar cheers from Baltimore's bench, as he's known much more for his pass-rushing skills than coverage ability.

Here were some of the other key highlights from Monday's practice:

-  After a tough day of practice Sunday, the Ravens avoided injuries Monday. Tight end Dennis Pitta participated during the first part of practice, but ended early to give his tweaked ankle a little more time to heal. Cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (back) and Asa Jackson (ankle) both didn't practice. 

-  Wide receiver Torrey Smith made a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch during seven-on-seven drills. Quarterback Joe Flacco made a perfect throw to the back corner of the end zone, and Smith hauled in the catch while keeping his feet in bounds. Smith also showed off a little defense later in practice. Rookie quarterback Keith Wenning was intercepted by 49ers safety D.J. Campbell, and Smith playfully ran onto the field from the sideline to keep him from running back the interception.

-  Rookie safety Terrence Brooks got some nickel reps with the first-team defense with Webb and Jackson both sidelined. He has the ability to play in the slot, and the Ravens may give him a look there during the preseason with the cornerback depth thin.

-  An observation throughout training camp is that Flacco has been much quicker to throw the ball away when pressure gets in his face. The Ravens have emphasized minimizing turnovers, and Flacco is taking that message to heart. Rather than trying to force a pass into tight coverage, he's willing to toss it out of bounds and live to see another down.

  • During one period of 11-on-11 drills, Flacco tossed a pass out of bounds while he was getting pressured, and wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. clapped his hands after the play to let Flacco know he was open. The next play, Flacco zipped a pass to Smith on the slant, but the veteran wideout had a rare drop. The play still irked Smith after practice, and he told reporters that "if I dropped the ball like I did today, then I'm not going to be very good."
  • Defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson deflected a pass from 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick at the line of scrimmage. Tyson shrugged off a blocker and knocked down the pass from Kaepernick.

-  Wide receiver Kamar Aiken has strong, strong hands. He has been impressive throughout training camp, and he drew praise from the coaching staff when he hauled in a tough contested catch Monday.

-  Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti took in Monday's practice while talking with several different people. He spent a good part of the day chatting with Jack Harbaugh, and then talked with Webb for a while near the end of practice.

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